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Health and safety

Nothing is more important than the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, contractors, visitors and communities.

Our approach to health and safety is supported by our Sustainability Policy and implemented through our internal health and safety standards and the procedures which embed these across our locations. Together these documents set minimum performance requirements and define how we identify and manage risk, design and execute work, report and investigate events and hazards, and share knowledge to enable us to learn from significant events. Our internal health and safety standards and their associated procedures are aligned to the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System Standard 2018, and the ICMM Mining Principles 4 - Risk Management and 5 - Health and Safety and comply with local laws and regulations.

Our Sustainability and Business Conduct – Minimum Requirements for Suppliers (also available in Spanish) requires that suppliers must comply with South32’s health, safety, environment and community requirements relevant to the work completed as part of the supply terms and conditions with South32.


Using a Mock Mine for Safety


We are committed to working together safely, and continuously improving how we work by embedding safe and sustainable business practices every day.

Our system of risk management enables us to identify and manage threats and opportunities. We use it to support the delivery of our business goals and act on our commitment to everyone going home safe and well.   

We have simple risk processes, fit for purpose tools and intuitive technology. These combine to enable continuous and dynamic risk management activities. Our material risk management outcomes inform the key decisions that support the steady performance of our operations. Our focus on management of health and safety risk exposures helps us manage the wellbeing of our workforce through safe and sustainable practices on our sites.

We operate based on a ‘three lines of defence model’. This provides regular assurance over our controls, driving reliable and sustainable risk management results.

Our risk and event management system, Global360, is embedded across our business and is used to proactively manage risks and hazards and to capture learnings after events or incidents occur.  Relevant risks, and the controls required to manage those risks, are recorded in the system and risk and control owners assigned. Global360 is used to capture event and hazard investigations and to assign actions to address findings from these investigations. We strive to create enduring value through strong governance and management of our performance. To achieve this, we apply the Three Lines operating model in relation to the management of risk: 

  • First Line is responsible for designing, implementing and executing processes and controls in order to manage risk;
  • Second Line assists the first line in managing risk by monitoring and reporting on the conformance with Group requirements, and advising and guiding the development and improvement of fundamentals; and
  • Third Line, our Group Assurance function, provides independent and objective assurance over the Group’s system of risk management and control, by way of performing internal audit reviews and reporting results to the Risk and Audit Committee. 

Ensuring our people and contractors are trained and competent for the work they do is essential to maintaining strong safety performance. Competencies required by local laws, and those related to certain roles, are defined in our internal health and safety standards, incorporated into training needs and skills analysis, and the associated training is provided to the workforce. We also provide role-based training for those who have responsibility for managing risks and maintaining controls.

Our operations provide health and safety induction, which all new employees and contractors must undertake, which includes training on material health and safety exposures in the workplace. We verify training and competency to enable safe execution of work. In accordance with our internal training standard, training frameworks are periodically reviewed.

We have processes in place to effectively communicate health and safety information to employees and contractors at all our locations. Employees are engaged in safety decision-making through the appointment of health and safety representatives, the establishment of health and safety committees, and inclusion in safety-related meetings. They also contribute to hazard identification, risk assessment, workplace inspections and event investigations.

Our people are empowered and expected to stop work where there is a threat to health and safety. These requirements are embedded in our internal safety standard, and outlined in our Speak Up Policy, which confirms that our people are protected from retaliation for reporting a business conduct concern.

Our frontline leaders play a critical role in embedding our values and culture, by modelling exemplary behaviours and fostering a safe and inclusive work environment.

We continue to invest in developing our leaders through the ongoing deployment of our Leadership Fundamentals Program.

As part of our Safety Improvement Program, we focused on the development of our safety leadership approach. This includes training and coaching for all levels of leadership and a risk reduction program featuring leader coaching and risk reviews. Read more about our Safety Improvement Program in our 2022 Sustainable Development Report.

Our internal security, crisis and emergency management (SCEM) standard requires that SCEM plans are developed, implemented, resourced and routinely exercised to mitigate material risks and to respond to emergencies. SCEM plans are designed to help us deliver a well-coordinated emergency response, protecting our people while minimising our impact on the environment and surrounding communities. Along with detailed SCEM plans, each operation has well-resourced emergency response and incident management teams with business continuity planning in place to manage potential events.

We engage dedicated and professionally trained security teams to protect our people and assets at our operations. By holding these security providers to high standards of conduct, we believe they can have a positive impact on local governance, peace and stability.

Globally, all our private security providers must operate consistently with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR).

In addition, our Africa-based private security providers must meet the requirements of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers. These requirements are mandated in our internal standards which form part of our company assurance programs. Our asset protection management standards acknowledge the importance of developing and maintaining good community relations as a part of successful security risk management.



The health of our people and communities is of great importance to us. Governed by our internal standards and managed through our system of risk management, we implement and continually improve health controls to help us to avoid, mitigate and manage potential health impacts to our people and communities where we work.

The potential material health risks at our operations and projects include exposure to airborne contaminants and hazardous substances, non-ionising radiation and communicable and infectious diseases. Other potential health exposures include noise and ergonomic stressors.

We have defined the minimum controls for the management of these risks in the workplace in our internal health standard and we monitor developments in the management of material workplace and environmental exposures to inform our approach and occupational exposure trigger levels.

We actively promote health and wellbeing in our workplaces. We provide occupational health services to employees and contractors including health surveillance to prevent and detect early-stage adverse health effects from exposures in the workplace. This is informed by our monitoring programs to assess and characterise exposures.

Through our occupational health services, we offer chronic disease management, education, and referral for non-occupational related conditions. This includes providing preventative health measures appropriate to the locations where we operate, including fitness facilities, influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, and malaria and HIV/AIDS programs.

We prioritise the mental health of our workforce, which has been brought into sharper focus following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Services provided include our Employee Assistance Program and our mental wellness program, which are designed to help our employees stay healthy, connected and productive by providing access to resources that support mental wellbeing.